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Hefley urges ag secretary to implement food labeling law

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HAY MAKER

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WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., said country of origin food labeling should be implemented without delay to help consumers make informed choices and to maintain fairness for Colorado's and the nation's agriculture producers.

In a July 28 letter to Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, Hefley pressed for the permanent implementation of retail country of origin labeling (COOL) for ground and muscle cuts of beef, lamb, pork, peanuts and other perishable agricultural commodities.

COOL requires the USDA to put in place a system for U.S. retailers to inform customers about what country the product originated from when buying perishable agricultural commodities. The goal of the labeling requirement is to increase consumption of domestic commodities and improve the market for U.S. producers.

The full text of Hefley's letter follows.

-end-

Secretary Mike Johanns

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.

Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Johanns,

It is with the greatest sense of urgency that I write you today regarding the permanent implementation of retail country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for ground and muscle cuts of beef, lamb, pork, peanuts and perishable agricultural commodities. As a Representative from a state that boasts over 2.5 million head of cattle, I assure you implementation of COOL regulations are of vital importance to the agriculture industry in Colorado as well as nationwide.

Country-of-origin labeling allows the consumer to make informed decisions about what to buy and allows the consumer to support specific farmers or producers at their discretion. It is important that these guidelines are enacted in a manner that is efficient and not burdensome for the agriculture industry, but at the same time allows consumers to ensure the safety for their food. Unfortunately over 40 of our trading partners have country-of-origin labels programs already in place, and despite all of our resources and technology, the U.S. has not been able to determine a method of implementation that provides our consumer with the same information. Without this program in place, we are putting at risk two of our three largest beef export markets, Japan and Korea.

As you know, the 2002 Farm Bill required USDA to issue mandatory labeling rules by September, 30, 2004. Congress has since delayed a mandatory implementation date for all covered commodities, except farmed fish and wild fish until September 30, 2006.

Furthermore, I am very concerned with the proposed additional delay in the House's Agriculture Appropriations bill. I urge you to use the existing authority you have as Secretary to ensure the Senate's Agriculture Appropriations bill and ultimately the Conference report does not include this provision to further delay mandatory implementation of COOL.

Sincerely,

Joel Hefley

Member of Congress
 

redriver

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I hope that the US government starts to listen to all these stupid polititians and does implement COOL. Then the consumer can decide between safe Canadian beef and US beef which R-calf says is tainted and unsafe because of the increasing numbers of cases of Mad Cow disease in the US beef herd.
 

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